Tuesday, April 18, 2017

One small device for heating and one large leap for smart homes

How would you like your home to be automated enough that it knows when to turn on the heat, when to turn on the air conditioning, and when to keep it off? To know that when you are home, and when you aren't? To make these decisions on the fly without you telling it to make these decisions?
Well in 2011, Nest Labs came out with v1.0 of the Nest learning thermostat. This thermostat combined machine learning with sensors, wifi-connection, and bluetooth can learn to adjust the heating and cooling of the house based on your location and time of day. It's programmed software is amazing at optimizing the energy usage in your home by creating a smart thermostat. This is a product that is able to learn the user's behavior, and because of the level of information it can receive it can intuitively allow for max optimization of energy efficiency in regards to temperature control. This smart thermostat, is a bit pricey but it is said over 2 years you will have made your money back through the energy savings that will be made due to the smart object. Nest Labs has also created besides the smart thermostat the Nest protect, and Nest camera which are their implements of a smart smoke detector and security camera. 

Nest was partially founded by Tony Fadell who is considered the "godfather of the ipod"[2], who set out to create a thermostat that was more advanced and efficient than anything else out their. Tony Fadell is considered one of the top innovators of the 21st centuries. Best described by 99u.com when talking about Fadell winning the Alva award: "Author of more than 100 patents, Tony Fadell embodies the spirit of the 21-century inventor. From the Sony Magic Link to the Philips Nino and Velo, and from the iPod and the iPhone to the Nest Learning Thermostat, Tony’s incredible creations have disrupted industries, introduced beautifully designed solutions, and changed the way we live.".[1] Tony Fadell when talking about his creative process, he talks about his innovative ideas rising up from his frustration over why things do not work or have yet to be invented. He also accredits his creativity from his background of curiosity and learning he inherited from his grandfather. He also says he gains his insight from learning how to perceive the world in how it is built, and being able to reassemble the world in a different manner.[1]

Tony Fadell is considered a great creative because he is able to spot the problems with existing technologies and is able to present solutions. This derives from his unique way of seeing the world, in which he abstracts he object/idea down to its fundamental building blocks and question its efficiency and usefulness. This parallels Einsteins method of abstraction in which Einstein would question the reality of his surroundings with the philosophical and mathematical revolutions of physics in his thought experiments. 

Here is a video of a interview with Fadell about his creativity:



  1. Smart homes are extremely interesting to me, especially in the realm of their potential business applications. Consumers are increasingly using in-home technology that gives corporations access to parts of people's lives that were previously private. Things like cell phones have long raised privacy concerns for people like my grandfather, who keeps tape over all cameras on laptops, computers, and cell phones. Google home and Amazon's Alexa are a new type of in-home technology that raises security questions: how do you know when they are or aren't listening?

    The increasing use of technology allows increasing data collection on consumer behavior. The concept of "smart homes" provides myriad opportunities for new forms of data collection, and I am curious to see how this data is put to use to increase profitability, improve marketing strategies, etc. On the negative side, I am curious how far users will allow technology into their lives, and what new kinds of problems this technology will create.

  2. Given the rapid progression of smart technology, I think it's only a matter of time before these kinds of inventions are a norm in every household. I'm not sure whether it's amazing or a little unsettling that something so simple as a thermostat can be programed to operate with minimal human input. This might be a sentiment that's a bit far out there, but if the interest in artificial intelligence and smart technology continues at this rate, could we reach a point where innovative and/or creative ideas are derived by a machine? There are already marketing tools out there that use artificial intelligence to help create email subject guaranteed to increase views. If people are able to take all the information presented to them over the course of their life and formulate that into a new idea, could we eventually program a computer to do the same?


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